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It’s not JUST the cold sores that increase the chance of Alzheimer’s!

Dr Ruth Itzhaki

Dr Ruth Itzhaki has been working on a possible link between cold sores and the development of Alzheimer’s for a long time.

Now she is suggesting it is time to investigate the use of antivirals in mid-life, with the view of preventing Alzheimer’s later on.

She says “We discovered in 1991 that in many elderly people HSV1 is also present in the brain. And in 1997 we showed that it confers a strong risk of Alzheimer’s disease when present in the brain of people who have a specific gene known as Apoe-e4.”

She adds ”The likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease is 12 times greater for Apoe-e4 carriers who have HSV1 in the brain than for those with neither factor.”

This is why we don’t see Alzheimer’s developing in the all of the 67% of the population who carry herpes simplex type 1 virus .

For cold sores to be a problem, the person has to also have the unusual gene. Wikipedia tells us that only 14% of the population has the Apoe-e4 variant.

Dr Itzhaki suggests that “It’s time to investigate the use of antivirals [aciclovir or other] in mid-life with the view of preventing Alzheimer’s later on.”

More research will be needed to see how effective aciclovir is in preventing the development of Alzheimer’s in people with type 1. It is such an easy treatment, if it works this will be most welcome!

And this research is totally irrelevant to people with genital infection.

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How herpes got its stigma

“It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” Mark Twain

(You can download this article on stigma as a PDF if you wish.)

For anyone in the twenty first century it is hard to believe that there was a time when ‘herpes’ was not a stigmatised and feared condition. But this is true. Less than forty years ago genital herpes was largely ignored. Newly diagnosed patients were not made to feel that a common skin condition had just ended their chance of having future relationships. Doctors knew that they were simply dealing with the manifestation of the common facial cold sore on a different site and they treated it appropriately. In the early 1980s things changed. How and why did this happen?

The history of the genital herpes stigma dates back a mere 30 years. Before then, the condition, which was first named by the Ancient Greeks, was well known to doctors – but it was not invested with the terror it commands today and the word herpes barely registered with the public.

Continue reading How herpes got its stigma